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New Left Review I/230, July-August 1998

Gregor McLennan

Fin de Sociologie?The Dilemmas of MultidimensionalSocial Theory


Marxism and Sociology: into the Melting Pot

The discourse of sociology, though never at the heart of modern bourgeois culture, has always seemed pivotal to the critical self-understanding of modernity. Unlike the other major disciplines, sociology has presented itself simultaneously as a special science of structural patterns and as a totalizing search for social meaning. In the former mode, sociology has sought to summarize and codify the results of systematic research into a broad range of social institutions and social problems; in the latter mode sociology has persistently cast itself as either philosophical underlabourer for the human sciences or as their most general level of substantive explanation. Whether posing positivistically as the science of society, or hermeneutically as the recovery of the meanings that constitute social interaction, sociology has been the most intrinsically ambitious of the modern academic formations, and for just that reason also the most frustrating and uncertain.

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Gregor McLennan, ‘Fin de Sociologie? The Dilemmas of Multidimensional Social Theory’, NLR I/230: £3

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